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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

Candidate Qualifications

Reference Number: MTAS-185
Reviewed Date: 08/14/2023

Tennessee’s "Little Hatch Act" limits the political activity of certain government employees but does not apply to municipal employees. T.C.A. §§ 2-19-201, et seq. Some municipal charters and ordinances contain restrictions on the political activities of municipal employees; however, they have been superseded by T.C.A. § 7-51-1501. That statute expressly gives local government employees the same rights as other Tennessee citizens to engage in political activities and to run for state and most local government offices.The law contains one significant exception: Local government employees may not run for the local governing body unless authorized by law or local ordinance.

Only the names of "qualified" candidates may be on the ballot. T.C.A. § 2-5-204(a). In general, charter provisions requiring up to one year of residency in the city to qualify for office are valid. A person may not use a business or commercial address as a residence for purposes of the election code unless the person provides evidence of the residential use of the property. T.C.A. § 2-2-122.

No minimum age qualification for membership on the municipal governing body may be greater than 21 years at the time the member takes office. A minimum age of 18 is fixed to be a candidate for such an office. However, a minimum age between 18 and 21 for assuming office may be fixed by private act, charter provision, or ordinance, if authorized by charter. This law does not apply in a county with a metropolitan form of government. T.C.A. § 6-53-109.